Today’s review is from team member Cathy, she blogs at https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/
Cathy chose to read and review Under The Stars by Linn B Halton in conjunction with Brook Cottage Books
Under The Stars is narrated in the first person from three perspectives; Katherine’s, Mark’s and James,’ each with their own titled chapters.
Katherine Dale is at a crossroads in her life, having just lost the job which has been her life for the last twenty-one years. Hoping to forge a new career as a writer she is nevertheless angry and frustrated to find herself in this position after her years of dedication to, and enjoyment in, her job. She lives in the beautiful Cotswolds with No. 4, her brilliantly named cat. Katherine is an enthusiastic and devoted follower of Mark Ainsley-Thomas, an acclaimed astrologer, and sets great store by her daily personalised horoscopes. When her forecasts begin to appear unclear and not what she’s used to, Katherine finds herself becoming confused and unable to plan efficiently. ‘Perhaps he’s not feeling his usual self, or perhaps the astrological signs are being purposely obtuse.’
Since the death of Mark’s agent of many years he has cause to regret signing with his new agent, Harriet, as he finds himself on the fame circuit, spending a lot of time away from home and not having enough time to spend working on his forecasts. Mark is uncomfortable with the way Harriet is controlling his life and trying to make him a celebrity as fame and money aren’t his driving force.
“I want to be famous for the accuracy and content of my forecasts, I want to help people who are struggling to find their way through some of life’s harsher moments. I feel that is my true and worthy destiny. But how do I explain that to someone like Harriet? The fact is, I don’t. Why? Because I’m a coward and she scares me to death.”
James Kingman is going through a bad patch. Losing his inheritance on a disastrous business venture, along with his long-term relationship has dented his confidence badly. ‘I was worried about meeting Mark face to face because the gallery wasn’t just a flop, it was a spectacular disaster.’ As Mark’s schedule becomes more impossible he needs a promising assistant astrologer and James fits the bill. He takes over Mark’s daily horoscope forecasts, still under the Mark Ainsley-Thomas banner, and settles into his new career. Until, that is, he receives irate emails questioning his/James’ forecasts.
The story revolves around the astrology aspect, giving it an interesting spin that works well. I like Linn Halton’s style of writing very much, and how she is able to get right into the minds of the characters, reflecting on love and relationships as well as anxieties and vulnerability. This is helped by the multiple points of view which is a good way to show differing reactions to events and situations. I love the relationship between Katherine and James and the fact they didn’t relate well to each other initially. All the characters are well-developed and engaging, I especially like old Jake, James’ neighbour, his story and the interaction between the two of them. Each of the main characters are at some sort of watershed and as their stories are woven together Linn Halton creates a well-balanced narrative that’s a pleasure to read.